Why should I work with a professional travel advisor?
The #1 reason why our clients opt to work with a professional travel advisor is to save their most precious resource - TIME! Through my expertise and global connections, I free you up to do other things while I get busy spending hours of research, planning and performing my due diligence on your behalf.
As your travel advisor, I will... Thoroughly research and investigate travel options based on your unique needs, wants, and must-haves.
Contact my destination experts on the ground to start crafting a proposal custom-tailored especially for you.
Present the draft proposal to you merely as a starting point towards designing your ultimate travel experience.
Incorporate your feedback and continue to collaborate with you to tweak and refine the itinerary (with unlimited revisions) until you’re completely happy with the result.
Keep in contact with you before, during, and after your journey, including 24-hour emergency service to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.
In a nutshell, it's my job to make your life easier, heighten your travel experience, and eliminate worry and fatigue so you can enjoy some peace of mind. If you're on the fence, check out these additional resources that clarify the benefits of working with a professional travel advisor.
How are travel advisors paid?
Professional travel advisors typically earn their compensation in three ways:
(1) PLANNING FEE
My planning fee starts at $50+ USD depending on the scope and complexity of the trip. This fee covers some (but not all) of the time and expertise I’ll be spending on your entire trip before, during, and after.
The Planning Fee (or the Plan-to-Go fee for first-time clients) is the green light I’ll need to authorize the official start of the planning process.
Most hotel properties, destination management companies, tour operators, and suppliers will pay a commission to travel advisors. Unique Destinations Travel Co. is an affiliate of Travel Planners International (Signature Network).
If you find that working with me as your luxury travel advisor has been a rewarding experience, please tell your friends, family, and colleagues about me. This is another way that I earn future compensation in what is mainly a referral-based industry.
How much does Customized International Travel cost?
Budgets vary greatly depending on where you're going, the number of days traveling, how active you want to be, and whether any touring is done in small groups or privately. Roughly speaking, the prices begin at a minimum of about $200 USD per person, per day not including airfare.
That's not to say I can't plan trips for less depending on the logistics of the vacation or destination, however, in order for me to provide the most value to your trip and work with our highly vetted and esteemed travel partners, this is the standard recommended starting point. But it really depends on what you’re looking for. Personal preferences as far as quality and experiences varies from client to client.
My best advice to you is this: simply schedule a free consultation so we can chat about your trip. There’s absolutely zero commitment and it'll give you some insight into whether or not I'm a good fit for you. You decide where we go from there.
What does the process of working with a travel advisor typically look like?
There are five phases to the travel planning process:
Just a brief convo to see if we’re the right fit. I'll ask a bunch of questions to get to know you and your expectations for your next epic travel event. And of course, you'll have questions for me too!
To start this ball rolling, complete the contact page, and then grab a 20-minute slot on my calendar. I so look forward to speaking with you!
I'll get to work researching the best available options for you, based on your unique must-haves and possible extras. But I can't take all the credit! I have access to destination experts who are on the ground and have direct knowledge about "out of the box" experiences that you might not find in any internet search. Together with my destination experts, we craft a customized itinerary based on your needs and preferences gathered from our initial conversation.
Your feedback is essential as we continue to develop the perfect travel experience just for you. We'll keep revising with unlimited revisions until you're thrilled with the end result. It's your journey so you're the boss!
You're off! I've coordinated the logistics of your accommodations and experiences for you in order that everything goes smoothly and stress-free from start to finish. All my on-the-ground contacts and I have your back when you need us should anything go awry.
Welcome home! Half the fun is reliving all the memories of a great travel experience. I can't wait to hear all about it, including any feedback you have for me as your travel advisor or about any of the arrangements that were made for you. It can only help me be a better travel advisor for next time!
Do I have a payment plan?
YES. Depending on the type of vacation and how far in advance you are planning, you are able to pay monthly until the final payment date. Most final payments are due between 45 - 60 days before departure. However, depending on the Vendor, it could be up to 90 - 120 days.
A deposit is required to guarantee your travel arrangements. Some deposits could be lower, and some deposits may require you to pay your airfare upfront. But when we are discussing the first draft of the proposal the deposit amount and final payment date will be presented.
What types of clients have you worked with?
People who opt to work with a professional travel advisor want customized travel experiences uniquely designed for their interests and needs. I work with clients who don’t have the time or connections to plan travel on their own, and who don't want cookie-cutter off-the-shelf vacations.
I work with stressed out bride and grooms that want to take something off their lists and hand it over to be planned with their wishes and best interests in mind.
Most of my experience is planning for couples and families that want to explore different parts of the world and honeymoons & romantic getaways. However, I certainly look forward to planning AMAZING travel experiences of any kind - for families and group getaways as well.
What advice would you give a client looking to hire a professional travel advisor?
The most important advice I would give any client would be to take your time and don't rush your travel experience! If you only have 10 days, don't try to cram too many cities in that short span of time as it won't be as experiential or memorable. Moving around too much can drain your enjoyment and relaxation. Stay long enough to savor the local culture, the sounds of the environment, the fragrances, the feast for the eyes. Meet some people and make new friends.
Work with a professional travel advisor affiliated with a host agency connected to global contacts and suppliers on the ground that can help you in the event of an emergency or a change in plans. Work with people that are there for you when you need them.
Have a realistic budget for the trip you want to take. If you have to research before talking to a professional please do so. It can only help them ensure that they have created the perfect experience for you.
What questions should potential clients consider before consulting with a professional travel advisor?
Some things you might want to give thought to prior to speaking with a professional travel advisor are:
What places would you like to visit, and more so, WHY?
What are your interests and hobbies (travel advisors know how to customize an itinerary centered around the answers to these questions.)
Do you (or anyone traveling with you) have special needs, physical or dietary restrictions that a travel planner should know about and make arrangements for?
Do you want your days loaded up with lots of activities, or would you rather have your days open to have on-the-go flexibility? Perhaps a mix of both?
What are your bucket list items for this trip? Consider your top three non-negotiables.
What do you definitely NOT want to do or see?
Thinking about your most favorite travel experience, what was it that made it so?
Thinking about your least favorite travel experience, what was it that made it so?
What's your budget range (excluding airfare)? It's important to be super realistic about how much things really cost - you get what you pay for!
Thinking about these questions before that initial consultation with a professional travel advisor facilitates the conversation and helps your advisor get to know you and what you desire, so they can provide you with options that fit your particular needs and expectations.
It's all about YOU - it's your journey!
What happens if I run into any issues during my travel period?
Is there anything scarier than traveling across the world without backup?
When you work with me, you also work with my network of trustworthy partners who are there to ensure that your trip is as easy and effortless as possible. Should you run into any travel snags, weather delays, or lost luggage, rest easy knowing that all of us have your back 24/7.
We're a team and we won't let you down.
How long does it take to plan a trip?
The amount of time it takes to plan a trip from the initial chat to final booking of the last component depends on a variety of factors, including how far in advance of the trip you've contacted me, the complexity of the itinerary, how many suppliers I'm coordinating with across the globe, as well as the number of revisions you decide to make to the initial proposal.
In general, it takes 3 to 5 business days after the initial chat for me to complete the first draft proposal. After the draft proposal is delivered, I ask that you review and respond as soon as you're able to thoroughly review it, in order not to lose the held space and prevent it from being booked by someone else in the interim. Please note that while I always try to stick to my estimated delivery date for the first draft, there are events outside of my control that may result in a delay (an emergency with a currently traveling client for example). I ask for your understanding when the need to take a few more days arises.
How far in advance of a trip should I contact you to kick off the planning process?
Advanced planners rule! Even if it's a year out, I'd still love to work with you.
Some of the world's most alluring destinations and experiences book 12-15 months in advance. The same is true during busy holiday times. If you're planning for a milestone celebration that takes over an entire hotel property (wedding, anniversary, 50th birthday, etc.) 18-24 months prior is a good time to open this dialogue.
Apart from those exceptional types of trips, the sweet spot has proven to be 6-9 months in advance. This way, I can ensure that you have the best guides, space in the hotels you want, and access to those highly sought after dinner reservations at a 3-star Michelin restaurant if you like! Early booking ensures better options.
In order to make the trip planning process most efficient, I do ask that you initiate the planning process with me only when you're ready to commit to booking. I'm happy to help with conceptualizing ballpark ideas with you anytime, but if you're not ready to proceed with booking the trip within 2 weeks or so, the proposal will go stale. I then have to start the process over from scratch, which can mean that we lose the held space, the best guides, and have to rework logistics with my suppliers. It's like a major do-over. For this reason, you can rest assured that I share your enthusiasm for finalizing details as quickly as possible, to confirm the most magical experience for you the first time around.
Will you work with me if I need to plan a trip on short notice?
It never hurts to ask! Though my consulting rates are higher for inquiries that are departing within 2 months (and rates for hotels, flights, cruise lines are often higher at this point as well), I'm happy to discuss your last minute needs to see if I can assist.
Given that, I only ask that you commit to being decisive, responsive, and enthusiastic about finding a great option that'll work! I, in turn, promise to get you the information as fast as I can and match the best available options with what you're looking for considering the short lead time.
Should I purchase travel insurance?
DEFINITELY. In uncertain times, it is too big of a risk not to purchase insurance to protect your investment. Travel Insurance is much more than just trip cancellation. I'm happy to give you a quote through our preferred agency, but you can also book through your preferred insurance provider – the important thing is that you are covered.
If you decide not to cover yourself with travel insurance, I'll ask you to sign a waiver stating you've knowingly opted out and accept the risks.